Does Music Make Us Workout Harder?

Posted by Brent Redpath on

 Since the rise in popularity of portable MP3 players and the i-Pod, working out has been done in conjunction with your personal music library. Whether it be running on the street, on the treadmill or lifting weights in the gym, it seems every second person is dawning a set of headphones when getting a sweat up.


We all feel that certain songs help us push that little bit harder, but is there any science behind that? And if so, is there a particular type of music that helps you go that extra mile? 

Can Music Help You Train Harder?

It turns out, yes (which I am sure comes as no shock). Ever heard the saying ''it's all in your head?''. While fatigue when working out is, of course, physical; a large part is also to do with how the brain perceives this physical fatigue.

Listening to music while training fights for the attention of the physiological feedback our fatiguing body provides to our brain. In a sense, music distracts the brain from the fact that it's, well, ''working out''. This leads exercise to be perceived as less taxing and makes working out more enjoyable - which are all things I am sure we can agree are great.

What Type Of Music For Working Out?

The kind of music you listen to when working out can depend on the type of workout out you are doing. When running on a treadmill, most people opt for a faster pace of 160 beats per minute (bpm). 

It's suggested that you match the intensity of your workout and heartbeat, to the music you listen to when exercising. When training starts to get to moderately intense levels, the sweet spot is around the 120-145 bpm mark. For reference, an analysis showed that out of 74,000 popular songs produced between the 1960's - 1990's, showed that 120 bpm was the most common pulse. So basically, most songs will do the trick.


One of the most overlooked aspects of this, though, is the psychological benefits of music on the individual. Songs have particular meanings and emotional attachments for individuals that create motivation and well ''psych people up''. This is extremely important when doing intense workouts or going for personal bests on the big lifts.

Some research indicates that self-selected music has a positive impact on mood and can be beneficial for power output. This makes perfect sense - we all have that song that we put on before a big set of squats. 

The Verdict? 


Music has a positive impact on working out. It alters your mood for the better and can allow you to push harder during exercise - distracting your brain from exercise-induced fatigue. As long as the music in your gym playlist has a good beat, there seems to be no extra benefit from any particular genre. As long it is motivational for you personally - whether that be Abba's greatest hits, Gangsta rap or death metal! 

Ps- For those interested, a bunch of scientists did a review on what was ''the ultimate workout playlist'' based on research. Personally, I think it's terrible, but if you are interested, check it out: http://goo.gl/IgkmX8

-Gym Meals

 


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